It’s not something you think about every day, but are you protecting some of your most valuable objects and possessions? From jewelry to original important documents, protecting these types of items from theft, fire or flood can make life easier if they are properly protected in the event they are exposed to any type of peril.
Here are five things to consider when you decide how and what you want to safeguard:
1. Think about what should be kept in a bank's safe deposit box.
Good candidates include originals of key documents, such as birth certificates, property deeds, car titles, and U.S. Savings Bonds that haven't been converted into electronic securities. Other possibilities include family keepsakes, valuable collections, pictures or videos of your home's contents for insurance purposes. You probably wouldn't want to use your bank safe deposit box to store anything you might need to access on a night, weekend or holiday.
2. It’s better to stash cash in a bank deposit account like a savings account or certificate of deposit, than in a home safe or a safe deposit box.
It’s important to know that cash stored in a safe deposit box is not protected by FDIC insurance—only money deposited to an account is protected. Also consider that money in a savings account earns interest while any money you keep in a home safe or safe deposit box doesn’t so the ability to grow your cash decreases.
3. A home safe is a better option for certain types of items.
A home safe may be a better option for keeping replaceable items you may need immediate access to such as a passport. Other items to keep at home would be bank and broker statements, originals of your "powers of attorney" and your original will. You may want to check with an attorney for guidance on what is required or recommended based on state law for storing your will.
4. If the bank ever fails, you still have access to your safe deposit box.
In general, if the bank fails and falls into government receivership, you would be contacted by the receivership with instructions for retrieving the contents of your safe deposit box.
5. No safe deposit box or home safe is completely protected from theft, fire, flood or other loss or damage.
Take precautions to protect against water damage by placing items in plastic containers or zip-lock bags. Store your safe deposit key, box number and bank name separately from your other important documents in case of loss or theft. Remember that by law, FDIC insurance covers only deposit accounts so don't expect a bank to reimburse you for theft of or damage to the contents of your safe deposit box. Some banks may have a blanket policy for these types of losses, but if you want protection for the valuables in your safe deposit box, talk to an insurance agent for appropriate coverage.
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